Canadian Government Lecture 7:
Parliament and Canadian Society
• State-Society relationship: Society is a vast monolith, and much smaller
is the state (parliament, courts, etc.). Politics is the state society
relationship, but no one takes it seriously. In Democracy the Society gives
inputs to the state and the state creates policies from that, creating a
feedback onto society. This is the stylized theory. Embeddedness is the
more actualized theory that says the state is embedded within society.
• No matter the country they are in, politicians, advisors, judges, civil
servants, and student in this class are all people. They all think and act
relatively the same. When looking at politics look at the behavioral
foundations or human behavior of it. Things we think about having value
(money) only exist because we believe that they exist, but really it is
o The state plays a part in the social construction of reality. An
example of this is the clearing that is made through a forest that
shows the Canada-US border. Other than the border there is no
geographically interesting thing. The border is a social
construction, and all states have them. Another example of state
construction is money, census categories (race), and citizenships.
o Institutions shape people, including the kinds of things that think
they are important. Sociological institutionism is when there are
certain rules that are put in place that shape how we define our
interests (getting a good grade). State shape institutions.
o State institutions shape, for example, group identities. Social
psychology is put into effect here that gives us fierce group
loyalties. An example is defending the Catholic Church when you
don’t even go to church anymore. Another example is veterans
being given certain entitlements for fighting in the war. The very
category ‘veteran’ or ‘Quebecois’ or race is a state construction.
• Politics and society’s relationship is complicated and messy, and you know
you’re wrong when you think you have figured it out.
Getting to Parliament
• Canada has an electoral system, which refers to the sets of rules, or
institutions that translate the number of people into seats of the office. Our
system is called a Single Member Plurality (SMP) System. This means
that the country is divided up into constituencies, which hold their own
elections, and one person gets elected at the end. The rules of the elections of each constituency say that the winner gets a seat. The
country is divided into 308 seats.
• Becoming a candidate has many rules. With few exceptions (e.g. judges,
senators, MLAs, inmates, and those convicted of violated the elections
act), anybody who can vote is allowed to run (this is a big democratic
o Once you realize you are eligib